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Church Says New ID Cards 'Not a Seal of Antichrist'
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 6 Jul.'12 / 17:59

Georgian Orthodox Church’s main governing body, Holy Synod, said on July 5 that new electronic ID cards, which will gradually replace old personal identity document, was not “a seal of Antichrist.”

“Version of ID cards, as they exist today, does not represent a seal of the Antichrist according to theological and ecclesiastical teachings,” the Holy Synod said in its decision on July 5.

Since it was first introduced a year ago, some Orthodox groups have been campaigning for allowing those unwilling to take new ID cards to have alternative identification documents. In December the Holy Synod established a commission “to study the issue.”

In July 5 decision the Holy Synod requested the government “if possible” to also introduce identification documents alternative to new ID cards. Obtaining electronic ID is not immediately compulsory; a holder of an old ID card can replace it with electronic one after the old card's validity term expires.

The Georgian Orthodox Church’s governing body in its July 5 decision also ruled that participation of clerics in events of political parties was “unacceptable.”

“The Church has always been the uniting force for the country and this function of [the Church] is especially required for Georgia now,” the decision reads. “For that reason, participation of clergy in an event of any political party is categorically unacceptable.”

Metropolitan of Urbnisi and Ruisi, Iobi, was present at a campaign rally of Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili in Mtskheta on July 1.

In a separate development, also related to the Church and politics, earlier this month Maestro TV aired remarks by a senior Orthodox clergy, who was accusing the authorities, in particular Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava of “insolently” meddling in Church’s affairs. After an interview he gave to a journalist, Metropolitan of Borjomi and Bakuriani, Seraphim, reportedly without his knowledge, was also recorded on TV camera saying that Ugulava was even “shouting” at the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church Ilia II.

Ugulava said in response on July 3: “It is regrettable that a cleric allows himself to say such a lie and slander.”

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